Stories about land

In Thar, crops wait in their beds of soil for the rain to come

The desert of Tharparkar spreads over 19638 sq km in southern Sindh, Pakistan. It’s known for its rich culture, religious harmony and arid lands that turn green after the yearly rainfall. Since its origin, Thar has been infamous for its droughts. After three years of continuous droughts, the people of Thar are hoping for a surplus harvest this time around. It’s one of the most peaceful areas of Pakistan and is ingrained with a beautiful culture, a unique geography, and hospitable people. I moved to Thar in 2013 from Sanghar, where I have been practising photography and developing documentaries ...

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Sizing up the Sri Lankan strife

In many ways, islands defy the socio-political belligerence of geographical proximity to other lands. Sri Lanka distinctly holds its own, even with the world’s largest democracy staring down intently at its past and present. It is either because of this, or perhaps despite it, that the seemingly small spec of land divided by a narrow sea from the southern tip of India has endured decades of a bloody civil war with such sound determination. Not long before I landed at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport, I realised this was a land of two tongues. Tamil and Singhalese are both percussive, rotund languages. The ...

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If I live in Finland, do I have to fast for 23 hours a day?

In the region of the earth above the Arctic Circle called ‘the land of the midnight sun,’ the sun does not rise for several months in winter or set for several months in summer. In Finland, the sun stays above the horizon for seventy days at a stretch. What are Muslims in such regions to do if Ramazan occurs during one of these summer periods? A response to this question on one of the forums online was that “the midnight sun is a myth and that there is no such thing”. The respondent added that the days are very long in these ...

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The importance we (don’t) give our country

When one thinks about Pakistan, what is it that comes to mind? For some, it’s a land with troubled tribal areas or a cradle for terrorism. For many, it’s a haven for corrupt politicians, backed by a corrupt legislation and a flawed constitution. And for others, it’s just a mistake that Mr Jinnah made 67 years ago. If you ask a young, college-going boy about what Pakistan is to him, he will probably say that it’s, “A country in which I was born, raised and taught the tricks of getting my way in the world either by hook or by crook. A ...

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Mayday mayday, our daredevil pilot wants to fly through a thunderstorm!

Thai Air may have a very good air worthiness record both for their fleet and the flying staff. Being a Thai Air passenger on several occasions I have had no bad memories until I flew back to Islamabad on March 17th, 2014 from Manila via Bangkok. Thai Air is probably one of the few foreign airlines that still maintain daily flights from three cities in Pakistan; all western airlines including Singapore Airlines stopped flying into Pakistan for various reasons, almost a decade ago, Thai Air has been providing that necessary bridge to keep Pakistan connected to Asia. By making a code-share agreement ...

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Once upon a time, in the land of the pure, I was a religious fundamentalist

I have a mantra on life which I wish to share with all of you – ignorance restricts and breeds hatred and extremism, while knowledge liberates and breeds compassion and understanding. Fundamentalism stems from ignorance and thus, only breeds negativity. It is a venomous disease that kills positivity and growth. It needs to be identified and cured, on a very personal level. As a Muslim, who had adopted a fundamentalist approach in his earlier days, I have come a long way by internalising a basic yet painful truth – I do not have all the answers, hence different points of view are not ...

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The serendipitous serenity of Swat Valley

Swat was a land alien to me, until I got the chance of visiting the beautiful valley with my brother and a friend. We decided to take a bus to Mingora and then travel on our own from there. The image I had in mind of the valley was a Kashmir-ish land, in internal turmoil, as the people struggle to keep their cool with the military and radical presence. I was prepared for an unwelcoming vibe from the locals. However, while we bargained with a local Hi-Ace driver, Abdul Rashid, to give us a short tour of the land, his demeanour and polite behaviour made ...

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An open letter to the Chairman of the Capital Development Authority, Islamabad

Dear Sir, I would like to share with you my feeling of owning a home in Islamabad and how it developed as a matter of inheritor. My father died in an accident at the age of 80, that too on one of Islamabad’s roads. Taking a trip down memory lane, I can still recall the day he received the allotment papers of a plot under the ‘Federal Government Employees Housing Scheme’ (FGEHS). The flashbacks of his expressions and excitement-filled voice portrayed security, peace of mind and hope of building a home of our own, that too with the halal income that he worked hard for after investing countless hours in ...

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Pakistan, a song of love and brotherhood

History tells us that all great nations were once not great. A nation like America had been war struck for more than 100 years. Racial inequality was at its peak in America. The economy was badly affected eight years ago. England too was war ridden for many years. China was once a collection of divided people with vastly differing aims. All great nations faced a plethora of problems before they became truly great. A citizen of the great Pakistan. Photo: Salman Javed I am citizen of a country where, Every day, Earth witnesses blood, The sky witnesses injustice, The sun sees poverty, The stars see slums. And the ...

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Tehelka controversy: Can powerful editors get away with sexual harassment?

For more than a decade now, Tehelka magazine has been respected by the media fraternity for its fearless coverage of illegal defence deals, land rights issues, gender equality and communalism. Then, what happened two weeks ago in an elevator of the Grand Hyatt, Goa that not only shattered the reputation of the magazine, but blacklisted it for a long time to come? Tarun Tejpal, the patron of Tehelka, is said to have sexually assaulted a female colleague during the annual THiNK fest that Tehelka organises every November. He sent an email yesterday afternoon to the Managing Editor of the magazine, Shoma Chaudhury saying that he has ‘recused’ ...

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